Grahame Begg will target the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes as a springboard towards the $5 million All-Star Mile for rising star Nonconformist.
Nonconformist went from a Pakenham maiden to an emphatic Group 2 winner at The Valley last autumn, the catalyst for Begg to target the world’s richest mile.
“He’s only had the one run at The Valley and won the Alister Clark pretty easily,” Begg said.
“You’ve got to have some goals.
“It‘s always a bonus having a horse that has won there and he was pretty decisive when he won.
“They’re never easy races, don’t get me wrong, I see Russian Camelot is going to go for that race, but anyway, we throw a hat in the ring.”
Nonconformist franked a breakout autumn in the spring, winning the Group 3 Coongy Cup (2000m) third-up at Caulfield before a luckless ninth in the Group 1 Cantala (1600m) at Flemington.
The four year-old gelding, a son of the late Victoria and South Australia Derby winner Rebel Raider, has since bounced out of a short break in great shape.
The third-annual All-Star Mile looks like being the strongest yet, with inaugural winner Mystic Journey, Surprise Baby and unbeaten Kiwi colt Aegon among the early nominations.
“You never know, got to be in it to win it,” Begg said.
“He only got beat four lengths in the Cantala after having a terrible run during the race,” Begg said.
“I would’ve loved to give him longer in the paddock but as it is with the carnivals (coming up quickly) he only got a month off,” Begg said.
“He didn’t get too much of a chance to let down too much so he’s retained some very good residual fitness.”
Regular jockey Jordan Childs will reunite with the gelding for the autumn.
Begg, who saw Galaxy Raider balloted out of the 2020 All-Star Mile, has pencilled in the Blamey Stakes (1600m) as another option for Nonconformist, should votes be hard to come by.
The 10 highest-ranked horses in the vote get slots in the $5 million race, while the winners of the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (Feb 20) and Blamey Stakes (Feb 27) are eligible for two of the five wildcard entries.
“This horse (Nonconformist) has got better credentials so hopefully we might be able to conjure up enough votes,” Begg said.
“Galaxy Raider might want to have another throw at the stumps, we’ll see what happens.”
Voting on the All-Star Mile opens on January 22.
Jockey Luke Nolen will miss a combined 17 meetings from December 19 to January 8 after being hit with back-to-back careless riding suspensions.
Less than 24 hours after an eight-meeting ban from Geelong on Friday the champion 40 year-old rider was sanctioned for the ride on Eagle Hawk Star in Race 1 at Flemington.
Stewards pinged Nolen for shifting out on the two year-old at the 400m mark and making “heavy contact” with Silent Charge.
On top of the nine-meeting suspension, Nolen was reprimanded for being unable to make weight to ride Peter Moody-trained Caffrey in Race 8.
Apprentice jockey Lachie Neindorf will miss a total of 21 meetings, from December 16 to January 8, for his own back-to-back careless riding indiscretions.
BOXING DAY BLACKBOOKERS
Trainer Robert Hickmott will consider backing up unbeaten Beltoro on Boxing Day, with a possible longer range plan to get into the Group 1 Australian Guineas in February.
The smart three year-old, who at Bendigo on debut then franked the form at Flemington last Saturday, unleashed a brilliant turf of speed to put a two-length gap on the opposition.
Beltoro should be strongly fancied in the 1400m Super Vobis 3YO benchmark 70 on Boxing Day.
NO RUSH FOR RUSSIAN
Spring star Russian Camelot will spend the festive season in the spelling paddock before a return to Danny O’Brien’s stable.
The dual Group 1 winner has formed a nice bond with Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare, according to stable representative Ben Gleeson.
“It’s a pretty nice paddock to be in,” Gleeson said. “They’re best of buddies at the moment. They follow each other around and they couldn’t be happier.
Russian Camelot’s autumn hit list includes the $5m All-Star Mile in March.
Co-trainer David Eustace says Acrobat, the Golden Slipper $13 second-elect at TAB, will follow a traditional path to the $3.5 million juvenile championship of Australia.
Despite the Coolmore-owned colt winning the $500,000 Inglis Nursery, an auction-house restricted race, the $290,000 first prize collect does not count towards Slipper qualification.
It means the regally-bred son of Fastnet Rock and Hips Don’t Lie will need to win a Pago Pago or Todman Stakes to be assured of a place in the field.
The $2m Inglis Millennium is another option, but only a portion ($69,500) of the purse will count towards the Golden Slipper.
TAB on Saturday took a bet of $5000 at $17 on Acrobat to win the Slipper.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The racing week starts at Mornington on Tuesday with an eight-race card. Midweek action starts at Bairnsdale ahead of a twilight meeting at Caulfield.
Warrnambool plays host to Thursday action, with Yarra Valley and The Valley (night) rounding out the working week.
The Christmas Race Day at Flemington headlines Saturday action, along with country meetings at Benalla and Colac.
Originally published as Surprise packet: Begg sets sights on All-Star Mile